Evidence of meeting #44 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was chair.

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On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Caroline Bosc

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay.

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

I have another motion, Mr. Chair.

July 27th, 2020 / 6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We are beyond our two hours, but I don't think we automatically adjourn. Go ahead.

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

It is with regard to the Prime Minister's appearance, and that of Ms. Telford.

Before I begin my motion, can I seek clarification that Mr. Trudeau and Madam Telford have agreed to appear separately? Is that the status right now?

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

That is the status right now. On Thursday the Prime Minister will appear from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Ms. Telford will appear from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Okay.

I will put forward the following motion:

That the Prime Minister appear for no less than three hours alone as a witness, on his own panel; that Katie Telford appear for no less than two hours, alone as a witness, on her own panel; and that the two appear separately.

The rationale is that this is a large and complicated file. This is a case in which the Prime Minister and his family are personally implicated. Unlike previous controversies, like the ones Mr. Fraser mentioned about other governments and other prime ministers, this was a case of the Prime Minister's family personally benefiting from $300,000 of highly unusual payments. Then the Prime Minister decided to attempt to direct a massive half-billion-dollar program to the same organization that had paid his family. If the Prime Minister comes and gives a lengthy opening remark, there won't be much time left for intervention.

Now, I will point out that if the Prime Minister does not provide us with more than an hour right now, there is a strong likelihood that the House of Commons would pass a motion in September to recall him, in which case he would have to testify in person again, perhaps at the ethics committee, depending on what the House says. A majority of opposition members do have that authority and will likely exercise it. In the pragmatic interests of the Prime Minister, I would suggest he simply come now and give comprehensive and complete testimony. Rather than trying to get in and get out and run out the back door before anyone catches him, he maybe would be better suited to just come and give a full testimony now and then avoid having to do it over. Do it once and do it right.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

The motion is on the floor.

Did I see your hand, Mr. Fraser?

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Yes. Thanks, Chair.

With respect, a bit of cognitive dissonance has gone on with respect to the treatment of various different witnesses and the willingness to accommodate their schedules. I only mean to suggest that it's unique for a Prime Minister to be willing to come and testify at all. I know there was some concern raised that either the Kielburgers or Mr. Li may or may not have other things on the go with respect to being present for testimony at a parliamentary committee.

I can tell you from personal experience over the past few months that the Prime Minister is working specifically to help rebuild the Canadian economy right now. If we want to invite him for whatever period, that's up to the will of the committee, of course. I would be quite pleased that he's making himself available at all, quite frankly, in deep contrast to the practice of Prime Minister Harper when he was given the opportunity.

Of course, this is up to the will of the committee, but my strong preference is to invite the Prime Minister, as we have. He has now accepted it. I'm quite satisfied with the fact that he's made himself available, which is quite unique for parliamentary committees, to say the least.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay. Is there anybody else?

I have to ask the clerk a question. It's one of the difficulties of not having the clerk beside me.

Madam Clerk, I've had some emails saying that we need the unanimous consent of the committee to continue. I would ask you for some advice there.

6:10 p.m.

The Clerk

You can always adjourn a meeting, Mr. Chair. That's at your discretion. If you choose to continue, then typically, if there's no objection, it's implied consent, so it's kind of up to the committee to decide.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

I object.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

A number of people are objecting to the meeting continuing, so I will adjourn the....

Go ahead, Mr. Poilievre.

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

On a point of order, Mr. Chair, maybe I misheard the clerk, but I thought she said that you could attempt to adjourn the meeting unless someone objected, and I would object to your doing so.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Which way is it, Madam Clerk? Is it that if I adjourn the meeting and there's an objection, it can't be adjourned, or if I continue the meeting and there's an objection...?

We have you on the spot, Madam Clerk, rather than me.

6:10 p.m.

The Clerk

We would continue unless there was an objection. If Ms. Dzerowicz objected, then we would adjourn.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay.

The meeting is adjourned.